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Featured Alumni

Innis College | Faculty of Arts & Science

Erika Savage

Bachelor of Arts (BA) 1995

Erika Savage is a former hip-hop dancer. It was good training for the hot-button issues she faces today as an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles.

Erika Savage is the in-house counsel at Interscope Geffen A & M Records, a division of Universal Music Group. She handles negotiations for such stars as Lady Gaga and Feist.

“There are a million issues that come up throughout the course of an album cycle,” Savage told U of T Magazine. She represents the record company in discussions with artists’ lawyers on everything from videos to album art to iTunes downloads.

She is also helping to pioneer a new kind of recording contract, which has created some controversy. It is the “360” or branded agreement, which gives the record company a percentage of the artist's future entertainment-related income such as touring, merchandise and/or endorsements. Savage says such contracts are inevitable given the current state of the recorded music business which has been deeply hurt by illegal file-sharing. “Everyone keeps saying the music industry has to adapt, and this is one way we’re adapting.”

After graduating with a U of T degree in Women’s Studies, Savage became a member of PhemPhat Entertainment, a non-profit organization formed in 1995 which provides education and mentoring opportunities for young artists. As part of PhemPhat, Savage co-founded a female dance company, PhemPhat Dance Agency, which tried to combat negative perceptions of female hip-hop dancers and encourage the music industry to treat them respectfully as artists. She later got her law degree from Osgoode Hall.

"The standards at U of T are incredibly high. So when you feel like you’ve done well there, you know that that’s a stamp of approval you can be really proud of."

Being at U of T, she says, allowed her “to listen to all these great bands, even at the pub. It was great, a really exciting time for me.”

 

Published Nov. 28, 2013

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